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After yesterday having his picture snapped wearing a Palmeiras jersey underneath the Brazilian National Team polo, Neymar frankly admitted he one day would like to play for the Verdão.

“Already as a small kid, I was Palmeiras. My idols were Evair, Marcos, Rivaldo, Alex… These are the guys I looked up to. I became a palmeirense because of them.”
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Neymar and the rest of the National squad today trained at Palmeiras’ Football Academy ahead of Tuesdays World Cup qualifier against Chile at the Allianz Parque.

“Nobody knows about tomorrow, but it would be a great pleasure (to play for Palmeiras)”, the Paris Saint-Germain forward concluded.

Lucas LimaDirector of Football Alexandre Mattos today met with Neymar’s father, but Neymar is not transferring to Palmeiras (quite yet). Now, there is a decent chance playmaker Lucas Lima, currently at Santos, pulls on the green kit next season. So happens, Neymar Senior is Lima’s agent… Stay tuned.  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Coach Oswaldo opted for a mixed bag yesterday, leaving his most valuable players resting. Against weak side Bragantino, that was still enough to secure the three points, Rafael Marque putting it away after nice assistance work by Leandro and Renato. Palmeiras have now won six games in a row, but not since the clash with Corinthians have Palmeiras been truly tested this season. On Wednesday, against Santos, pressure will be cranked up a few notches.
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Yesterday also marked the much awaited debut of young striker Gabriel Jesus. Curiously, on the same date but exactly six years ago – 7 March 2009 – Neymar made his debut for Santos F.C., also at the age of 17. Gabriel came on for about 20 minutes, distributed some good passes and had a shot at goal, pleasing the close to 30.000 spectators – another fantastic crowd – at the Allianz Parque.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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You know, Neymar? The 21-year old striker Barcelona today unveiled before 56K supporters at the Camp Nou stadium? The one with a US$ 74 million price tag?

Neymar_2004These days a never before seen videotape surfaced. On the tape, an interview with said Neymar, from 2004. The kid, only twelve years old, keeps a fixed gaze on the reporter while talking about his aspirations, showing his trophies, and letting us know what team he supports: Palmeiras. “Since when?”, asks the reporter. “Since always”, Neymar replies.

In case you want to practice your Portuguese (or perhaps just check out Neymarzinho), the video is available here.
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Authenticity confirmed.

Authenticity confirmed!

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Every now and then, something special pops up. Something that breaks new ground. Like the comic book “ALMA” (SOUL), that is being launched this coming Tuesday at the HQ Mix bookstore, a few hundred meters from the Pacaembu stadium, São Paulo.

“ALMA” is the work of recognised cartoon artists Custódio (text) and Fernandes (drawings) and tells the story of the oldest sports and leisure area in Brazil, the legendary Parque Antarctica. Not only is the Parque Antárctica the only space that have seen all major Brazilian football players in action – including Charles Miller, Friedenreich, Garrincha, Pelé, Ademir da Guia and Marcos – but has also staged many a noteworthy event, including the very first official game of football in Brazil and the first car race in Latin America.

The Parque Antarctica was inaugurated in 1890. 30 years later, in 1920, the complex was purchased by the Sporting Society Palmeiras, who used it as home grounds while simultaneously making significant reforms. In 1933, the Palestra Italia stadium was officially opened – at the time recognised as the most modern stadium in Brazil, holding for some 30.000 spectators.

Custódio had the idea about the comic book when he learned that the Palestra was making way for the constructions of the New Arena, scheduled to stand ready by the end of 2013. Every day more fascinated about the rich story involving the Parque Antarctica and the Palestra Italia, he called upon Fernandes – a top cartoonist and caricaturist – to join in on the project. The result is a visually stunning and unique piece of art, telling a story over 120 years that is intimately linked with that of the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras. While finalising the comic, the authors experienced the ecstasy of Palmeiras concurring the Brazil Cup trophy and the sadness of the relegation in the Brazilian championship. As Custódio himself concludes: the entity is bigger than the men who passes through.

capa1_72As mentioned, the book release takes place this coming Tuesday (11 December) at the HQ Mix bookstore, Rua Tinhorão 124, Pacaembu, São Paulo, between 7pm and 1am. There’s also a second launch on the Saturday 15 December, at the Pizza Restaurant Prestíssimo, Al Joaquim Eugênio de Lima 1135, Jardins, São Paulo, from 7pm and onwards. There’s also a hotsite (in Portuguese) and an e-mail for online orders (R$ 35.00 including p&p inside Brazil).

This Tuesday I’ll be at the QG Mix securing my copy and a couple of autographs from the authors. Hope to see you there!

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Yesterday against Santos Palmeiras played if not their best then certainly one of their best games this season. Speed, passing accuracy, determination, aggressive defence, fast counterattacks. It was impressive to watch, especially in the first half. Palmeiras dominated Santos fair and square, creating numerous opportunities. The line-up for the night: Bruno; João Vitor (João Denoni, 36′ 2nd H), Leandro Amaro, Maurício Ramos and Juninho; Henrique, Corrêa, Valdivia and Mazinho (Obina, 24′ 2nd H; Barcos and Betinho (Vinícius 45′ 2nd H).

The goal was pending and was released when for the day excellent Corrêa found the net from outside the penalty area at the end of the half. Unfortunately, Palmeiras enjoyed little the supremacy in the score as Neymar only four minutes later equalised with a perfect free kick that hit the goalpost on the way in.

The second half resembled the first, with Palmeiras calling the shots. With tension rising the referee started distributing yellow cards. Suddenly, that bucket of cold water: you just can’t give Neymar any space. None. Whatsoever. He received the ball outside the penalty area, surrounded by four Palmeiras players, turned and fired away rather unexpectedly. Bruno reacted too late and the second goal, again by touching the right goalpost, was a fact. Yes, it was an unexpected shot but a class A keeper must expect the unexpected, especially from a player like Neymar. The shot was defendable.

Bruno shouldn’t be crucified, as Palmeiras created many chances and should have equalised. Barcos had the golden opportunity with minutes from the final whistle, alone with the keeper, but didn’t follow the manual and headed high instead of towards the ground.

Leaving the derby empty-handed was extremely bad and left Palmeiras in the bottom four halfway through the Brazilian Championship. The result did not reflect the game as it unfolded, but did indeed reflect how decisive Neymar can be and normally is.

If Palmeiras play like this the rest of the championship, there’s no chance in hell this team’s going down. That said, It would be great to start living it and not only say it.
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High-profile derby, the first true test of the season. Presidente Prudente. Scorching sun. KIA’s debut on the Palmeiras jersey. Neymar’s birthday. And “everyone” set on commemorating the wiz kid’s 100th goal.

Palmeiras came on with a defensive formation, Scolari innovating by positioning João Vítor as a third defensive midfielder from start (again, no Tinga in sight). Fairly early the action started tilting in favour of Palmeiras, with the team exercising more ball possession and a stronger presence in the offensive zone with Valdivia distributing passes. However, few clear chances were created on either side and we went to half-time goalless and Valdivialess; with five minutes left the Chilean felt his ankle and also a muscular discomfort and gave way to Daniel Carvalho.

Second half and the scenario pretty much stayed the same. Palmeiras’ strong defence frustrated the attempts of Neymar and Ganso, while Palmeiras consistently threatened to open up the scorecard; Daniel Carvalho is improving by the game and today brought plenty of quality to Palmeiras’ offence.

Then came the bucket of cold water: Ganso took a free kick masterfully and found Neymar alone between two defenders, giving Deola no chance in hell. Celebration, fireworks, hail and praise to Brazilian football’s cover boy #1.

Scolari withdrew Luan and replaced him with Maikon Leite. The swap produced the usual effects, with a lighter and faster Palmeiras scaling up the pressure. With five minutes to go, Assunção’s corner found opportunist Fernandão in a similar way as against Portuguesa two weeks back to score the equaliser. And only minutes later Carvalho’s pass allowed Juninho to drive the ball on his left flank and cross it low, seeing it reflecting off a defender to leave excellent Santos keeper Rafael completely surrendered. The highlights below are truly joyful.
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Tactically, players performed very well today. And the squad is clearly united and focused. The team’ perseverance and coolness, even against a strong opponent and under demanding conditions, are promising signs. The two reinforcements we’ve seen in action so far – Carvalho and Juninho – have surely made good to excellent first impressions. And next week we should get the first glimpses of Barcos, Román and Artur performing under fire.

There’s more… Palmeiras seem very close to repatriate former Santos midfielder Wesley, currently at Werder Bremen. The two clubs have agreed on sums and Palmeiras will now proceed negotiations with Wesley, hopefully being able to integrating him into the squad by early next week. Wesley is a quality player and very versatile. A confirmation of his signing would be very welcome indeed.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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